In the Mail

I was quite pleased to finally receive my BDAG and HALOT accordance discs in the mail today. I looked at a few entries in BDAG and was extremely happy at the level of detail present there. I trust it will be an extraordinarily useful resource! As for HALOT, I’ll get back to you when I start learning Hebrew ;-).


Recent Purchases

So I made two purchases recently, one for accordance and one more traditional. I had a coupon for Accordance, so I went ahead and got the BDAG/HALOT bundle. I’m quite happy to add these two lexicons to my library. HALOT won’t do me much good until I start learning Hebrew, but since I do plan to at least pick up the basics one day I’m sure it will come in handy. And I’m definitely excited about BDAG. The 2nd edition print version is fantastic. Having the 3rd version on the computer will be even better. I’m looking forward to not having to open Thayer as often ;-). I also added the “Apologists” module which includes the Greek texts of Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Theophylus of Antioch. It’s always nice to have additional morphologically tagged Greek texts ;-).

The other purchase was from, also with a coupon. I got Whitacre’s Patristic Greek Reader and also the Barnes and Noble classic edition of Aristotle’s Poetics and Rhetoric. I’m extremely excited about the Patristic Greek Reader. I had forgotten that it existed and was looking for a Patristic reader! The Aristotle works were largely to get free shipping, but I’m excited to read more on Greek rhetoric. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to read them in Greek!


Church Fathers (in French!)

I got a few books from the library today. Among them was a sources chrétiennes edition of Origen’s Commentary on Romans. This is a critical text with French translation, and loads of helpful commentary. I’m pleasantly surprised at my French. I’m able to follow along quite nicely and get the gist of what’s being said. Reading in a foreign language can be a mystical experience at times… Now, if only I could read Greek like I do French ;-).

Oh, and I must say, the “source chrétiennes” series is phenomenal, if this work is any indicator. I hope to get my hands on more.

Book Review: Paul in Fresh Perspective (Part Two)

This is the second part to a two part review. Part One can be found here.

In the first part of the review, I briefly summarized Part One of Wright’s Paul in Fresh Perspective. This part was entitled ‘Themes.’ This post deals with the second half of the book, which Wright calls ‘Structures.’ ‘Structures’ refers (I think) to the structures of Paul’s thought. This part of the book deals primarily with how the three key Jewish doctrines (monotheism, election, and eschatology) are redrawn by Paul around Jesus and the Spirit. Hence, the chapters entitled, “Rethinking God,” “Reworking God’s People,” and “Reimagining God’s Future.” The final chapter deals with the relationship between Paul and Jesus in the light of the rest of the work: “Jesus, Paul, and the Task of the Church.”

Wright begins, appropriately enough, by exploring Paul’s understanding of monotheism. His argument is Paul’s primary polemical target is not Judaism (or even Jewish Christianity), but Paganism. Wright notes the varieties of monotheism that existed in Paul’s period and defines Paul’s as “covenantal and creational monotheism.” The thrust here is that God is passionately involved with the events of the world, but different from the world (against both stoic pantheism and epicurean deism/atheism). This God of Paul’s has created the world and is working toward putting it to rights. This is a typically Jewish understanding of God, but then Wright shows how Paul’s understanding was different than historic Judaism: it had been redrawn around Jesus and the Spirit.

Beginning with Jesus, he cites several passages where Jesus has been put in places reserved for God in the OT. These include Romans 10:5-13 (where Jesus is the Lord in Paul’s OT exegesis), Philippians 2:5-11(where Jesus is the name at which every knee should bow, though this is Yahweh in Isaiah), and 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 (where Jesus is inserted into the schema, the classic monotheistic confession of Israel). In light of these, he thinks Romans 9:5 should be understood as Jesus being called “the one is God over all.” People often claim that Paul couldn’t possibly be calling Jesus God here, but this a priori dismissal doesn’t hold in light of these other passages. Next, Wright discusses the Spirit. He examines several passages, including Galatians 4:1-8, Romans 8, Romans 10:3, and 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. Wright notes that the Spirit and Son are working together to fulfill God’s promises. The Spirit is instrumental in bringing about the “new exodus.” Additionally, the Spirit marks us for the age to come as members of God’s family. 1 Corinthians 12, while referring to the unity and diversity of the church, serve as a way to understand the complex interactions for Paul of Father, Son, and Spirit. Wright then closes the chapter by examining how this played out in Paul’s churches.

The next chapter deals with the theme of election, “Reworking God’s People.” Election exists to deal with Sin and Death, it calls “a people from, and for, the whole world.” Wright sees Paul as both affirming Israel’s election (as in Romans 9), but redefining it as well (as in Galatians 2:11-21). Here Wright builds off his understanding of justification by faith. For Wright, Paul’s doctrine of justification is not a description of “how people get saved,” but rather “how you know who your family members are.” The question is not one of “getting in,” but rather, “how can I tell who is in?” He cites Gal 2:11-21, where justification deals with a conflict over table fellowship. He then proceeds to discuss Jesus and the Spirit in relation to Election.

Beginning again with Jesus, Wright argues that election is now by the “faithfulness of the Messiah” and not by Torah. Jesus is both the end and fulfillment of Torah. Faith functions as a marker by which we tell who our fellow brothers and sisters are. He discusses the constitution of God’s people in the Messiah, referring both to 1 Cor 10 and especially Eph 2:11-3:13. He cheekily notes when discussing Ephesians that even if Paul didn’t write Ephesians, he would have heartily endorsed it as a statement of his theology. God’s family is now Jew+Gentile and depends on the Messiah, not on Torah. When discussion turns to the Spirit, Wright notes passages like 2 Cor 3. Here, The Spirit stands over against Torah. It is not Torah which marks out God’s people, but the seal of the Holy Spirit. Not only does the Spirit mark God’s people, but he also empowers them to be God’s people, to be who they are.

This brings us to eschatology, “Reimagining God’s Future.” Wright starts here by tracing out the eschatological hopes common in Second Temple Judaism. He maintains that the “return from exile” played a big part here. He discusses several other themes, like Renewal, Resurrection, and Judgment. When discussing Jesus, Wright notes especially that through Jesus, “these are the last days. “ In the resurrection, God’s future has broken into the present (of course noting the now/not-yet dimension of eschatology). The final judgment is redrawn as a resurrection and judgment with Jesus in the middle of things. Likewise, with the Spirit, the Spirit’s coming denotes the “last days,” using Joel 2 has a basis for this. Wright is quick to note that the Spirit’s work links present justification with final justification. By the Spirit, we anticipate in the present our final vindication, the final verdict where God will declare us as ‘righteous.’ Likewise, the Spirit’s work in us and through us assures us that God will have firm grounds to make this declaration.

This brings us at last to the final chapter, “Jesus, Paul, and the Task of the Church.” Here Wright focuses on the relationship between Paul and Jesus. The problem is that Paul doesn’t seem to refer to Jesus’ teachings much. He doesn’t mention the Kingdom of God often, nor does he refer to his ethical rules like the Sermon on the Mount very much. Wright claims that we see a problem because we have reduced them both to “expounders of universal ethical truths.” In doing so, we hopelessly misunderstand them. He argues that when we recover them as “historical people,” we can understand their relationship much more easily. Wright likes the metaphor of “composer and conductor,” or “architect and builder.” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3). Basically, Paul is not out to reproduce Jesus’ teaching verbatim, but to implement the much larger project that Jesus inaugurated. The Kingdom of God ‘discrepancy’ is simply a change in audience. “Kingdom of God” talk resonated deeply with a Jewish audience. It conjured up images of the Messianic Kingdom and the rule of God. This wouldn’t have made much sense to a pagan though, so Paul used different language. “Gospel” and “Lord” were perfectly comprehensible to pagans, so Paul’s announcement of the “real Gospel” of the “real Lord” would have been entirely understandable for pagans. In talking about ethics, Wright argues that Paul is teaching his churches to think Christianly, and not simply giving them a list of rules. This is why he spends much more time grounding his practical instruction in “first principles” rather than giving a laundry list of Jesus’ sayings.

That rounds out the book. This section got quite a bit longer than I anticipated, so my apologies for that. This is a terrific little book from Wright. There’s all sorts of fine details that he doesn’t address, but he does a terrific job of highlighting the “big picture” concerns for Paul. I’d recommend the book to anyone who’s interested in Paul. The book isn’t overly technical, nor is it terribly long, but the content is thought-provoking and worthy of attention!


Book Review: Paul in Fresh Perspective (Part One)

This is part one of a two part review. The second part may be found here.

In preparation for the Paul class I’m taking this fall, I’m looking back through N.T. Wright’s Paul in Fresh Perspective. The book is based of the Hulsean Lectures he did at Cambridge, and was published in 2005. The work contains a wonderful, short outline of Paul’s work. The first part deals with themes. Here, Wright addresses, “Creation and Covenant,” “Messiah and Apocalyptic,” and “Gospel and Empire” in successive chapters. The second part addresses structures, where the chapters are entitled, “Rethinking God,” “Reworking God’s People,” “Reimagining God’s Future,” and then “Jesus, Paul, and the Task of the Church.” I will address Part One in this post, and Part Two in a second.

Wright begins with an introduction that briefly locates Paul in the three worlds: Second Temple Judaism, Hellenistic Culture, and Roman Imperial dominance. It is against this backdrop that Wright works throughout the book. He deals cursorily with some of the interpretative movements over the course of the past 100 years, locating all within historical situations (and noting how this affected the exegesis). For instance, he notes that suspicion over Pauline authorship in Colossians and Ephesians arose “when the all-dominant power of New Testament scholarship lay with a particular kind of German, existentialist Lutheranism for whom any ecclesiology other than a purely functional one, any view of Judaism other than a purely negative one, any view of Jesus Christ other than a fairly low Christology, and view of creation other than a Barthian ‘Nein’, was deeply suspect.” (18). Of course, he also notes the “situatedness” of the movements he sees as helpful, understanding it as a providential grace of God and not a postmodern “deconstructive nihilism.”

Following the introduction, Wright jumps into the themes of “Creation and Covenant.” He locates these first within their Old Testament context. Psalm 19 functions paradigmatically here, where God is extolled in the first half for his creation and in the second for the covenant, the giving of Torah. Wright draws on themes from Genesis, the prophets, and the Psalms. Basically, Covenant should be understood as the solution to the problems in Creation (namely Sin and Death). Abraham is naturally quite important here. God’s promises to Abraham are the basis for God redeeming the cosmos. Particularly, through Abraham, the seed will come through whom “all nations will be blessed.” According to Wright, this is encoded in the phrase δικαιοσυνή θεού (righteousness of God). Wright understands God’s righteousness as God’s faithful fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham. This climaxes in Jesus, the Messiah, who is “the seed to whom the promise referred.” Wright looks at three passages here Colossians 1:15-20 (he notes the controversy of including Colossians), 1 Corinthians 15, and Romans 1-11. He traces creation and covenant through these 3 passages from a “bird’s eye view.”

Proceeding, Wright moves on to “Messiah and Apocalyptic.” Here, he notes the notoriously slippery meaning of the word “apocalyptic.” He argues that term, as it has often been used, is misguided. He takes issue in particular with the idea that Second Temple Jews expected an impending end to the space time universe, which has often been the assumption of “apocalyptic.” Rather, he argues that “apocalyptic” in Paul should be understood in terms of revelation. God has revealed his plans for the world. These include a “new heaven and a new earth,” not simply a destruction of the present world and a “whisking away” to Heaven. This revelation has taken place supremely through Jesus the Messiah. Wright spends a good deal of space debunking the claim that “Christ” functioned merely like another name by Paul’s time. He argues instead that the title “Christ” has royal and messianic connotations, and needs to be understood as such. This locates Jesus more easily within the OT themes which Wright explored in the prior chapter.

This brings us to the final pair of themes, “Gospel and Empire.” Whereas the prior two chapters locate Paul largely within Second Temple Judaism, this chapter pits Paul against the Greco-Roman society, especially the imperial Roman Empire. He warns readers that is all too easy to impose “post-Enlightenment” divisions of “religion and politics” back onto first century texts. The political situations which Paul faced are significantly different than those encountered in modern, Western democracies. Wright then proceeds to show the implicit imperial critique in Paul’s writing. He notes that Paul draws on imperial language quite often to explain the Gospel. Some of these words include ευαγγελιον(gosepl, or good news), κυριος (lord), σωτερ (savior), and παρουσια (royal appearing). For Wright, it is implicit that whenever Paul says “Jesus is Lord” he also means “Caesar is not.” He treats Philippians 3:20-21 in some detail here, and also briefly addresses 1 Thessalonians 4-5. The crux of the chapter is that Jesus’ gospel stands over against the “good news” of Caesar.

That wraps up the first section of the book. I’ll work through the second part of the book in a second post.


DOG: Some Hermeneutical Clarifications

Other parts to this series can be found on my Deliverance of God page.

This post concerns Part Two of five in The Deliverance of God. Part Two is much shorter than Part One and Part Three. It’s entitled “Some Hermeneutical Clarifications.” As one would imagine, this part functions as groundwork for his exegetical discussions in Parts Three to Five. The first chapter in this part deals with the “nature of reading.” He moves from the exegetical level (individual verses or sets of verses) up through argumentative (passages), framing (sets of arguments), and theoretical (essentially systematic theology). He argues that readings need to satisfy on all of these levels.

In this chapter he lays out a methodology for examining Romans and Justification theory. Basically, he envisages a sequence of “overdeterminations” and “underdeterminations.” A textual overdetermination is something in the text which is not accounted for in the theory. A textual underdetermination is the opposite: something in the theory which is not accounted for properly in the text. These complement “theoretical under/overdeterminations,” so a textual overdetermination is a theoretical underdetermination, and vice versa. It’s a simple yet elegant methodology. Graphically, it works something like this:

Textual Overdetermination <——-> Theoretical Underdetermination
Textual Underdetermination <——-> Theoretical Overdetermination

What exactly these work out to will be seen in Part Three. The remainder of Part Two deals with two issues: the Church-historical setting of JT, and the “Modern European Pedigree” of JT. His goal here is to “clear the air” before the exegetical work commences. The “Church-Historical Pedigree” is the subject of the next chapter. Here he deals with Luther and Calvin in relation to JT. He places them both in positive and negative relation to JT, meaning that he notes both points in their writings where they promulgate JT, and where they promulgate something different. He then examines Augustine, claiming that he abandons key points of JT later in his life (namely because of the Pelagian controversy). Campbell concludes that Luther, Calvin, and Augustine can be deployed on both sides of the JT debate, though he does note their importance in furthering JT.

The final chapter of Part Two deals with the “Modern European Pedigree.” The chief base of this pedigree is that JT concords with certain principles of “philosophical individualism.” He then traces Justification through as a paradigm which is foundational both for conservatives and liberals. He notes Billy Graham and Bill Bright’s “Four Spiritual Laws” on one hand, and figures culminating in Bultmann on the other. He concludes by noting that JT corresponds suspiciously to the “modern, liberal individual” (liberal in the sense of post-Enlightnment). The purpose is to highlight certain interpretative tendencies that stem from these inherited traditions. Still, it does seem odd for a book primarily about Pauline theology. Campbell leaves no stone uncovered: he tracks JT down through the ages and shows its interaction with any number of things: governments, individuals, or philosophies. This result is that JT gets wound up being implicated in all sorts of bad things: Constantianism, the liberal-nation state, capitalism, etc. I’m yet to be convinced of all of this: I’m wondering if these are “overdeterminations” on Campbell’s part (to use his own parlance).

Regardless, Part Two is concluded. We may finally proceed to the exegesis in Part Three.


DOG: The Problems of Justification Theory

Other parts to this series can be found on my Deliverance of God page.

Campbell spends the first part of his book highlighting problems with the traditional Protestant understanding of Paul, which he dubs “Justification Theory.” (hereafter Justification, or JT) Often called the “Lutheran reading,” a summary of it can be found here. This description takes up the first chapter of the book.

Campbell then moves onto highlighting the difficulties of Justification. He proceeds on several levels. His first list is at the “intrinsic level.” These are difficulties which are present before examining passages that support other readings. One example is JT’s understanding of humankind (anthropology). Justification posits that mankind is both intrinsically depraved and sinful, but simultaneously capable of rationally deducing certain properties about God. These include certain moral rules, a day of judgement based on merit, etc. Humanity is intelligent enough to reason their way to most of the things in the “Premises” and the “Loop of Despair” in the JT outline. This of course clashes with a humanity that is “in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Ephesians 4:17-19) Basically, you get a tension: two paradoxical descriptions of humanity. Likewise, Campbell questions JT on grounds of theodicy. The problem is this: God demands absolute, 100% obedience to the law to get into Heaven. Yet, as we have seen, humanity is incapable of this. How can God be just if his demands are impossible to fulfill? He notes several others, but we can move onto the next type of tension.

Campbell then moves onto systematic difficulties in JT. These are difficulties that JT experiences when put next to other Pauline passages, chiefly Romans 5-8. Campbell constructs an “alternate soteriology” from Romans 5-8 and compares it to Romans 1-4. He then highlights the tensions. Some of these are repeats from the intrinsic difficulties (his charge of a paradoxical anthropology is strengthened by his reading of Rom 5-8). He also gives tensions on other grounds, like ecclesiology (nature of the Church), the nature of faith (faith is surprisingly low key in Rom 5-8) and theology (what is God’s fundamental attribute?). His case it very persuasive here. If only a few tensions existed, they would probably be reconcilable. The nature of theology is such that one learns to live with tensions. However, he has placed the bar quite high for anyone wanting to reconcile the traditional reading of Romans 1-4 with other parts of Paul’s thought, especially Romans 5-8.

The final difficulty that Campbell notes is Judaism. Campbell claims that JT makes certain empirical claims about Judaism that are demonstrably false. JT states, for instance, the Judaism is a law of legalism which ultimately leads to the “loop of despair” in the outline. The classic reading of Paul has a highly polemicized picture of Judaism which has plagued Europe for hundreds of years (Luther was a raving anti-semite remember, probably his deepest character flaw). This found its terrible climax in the Holocaust and the Nazi atrocities. It’s important not to attribute these horrible things to Christian theology, however the Lutheran caricature of Judaism certainly didn’t help the matter. Against JT’s claim of Judaism as a religion of “works-righteousness” and “legalism,” Campbell largely follows the work of E.P. Sanders. However, he reorients some of his claims, and puts them on a sounder theoretical base (according to Campbell anyway). Essentially, Campbell argues that Sanders’ work has punched an empirical hole in JT.

The final chapter in Part One deals with interpretative dilemmas that JT has influenced. He starts with the dilemmas faced by Pauline interpreters. Krister Stendahl’s work on introspection is the first he explores. He then moves onto the Participatory emphases, especially noting Wrede’s construal of Paul’s gosepl. After a few more interpretative tensions, he proceeds to “Broader concerns in the Pre-Christian Vestibule.” These problems include Natural Theology, Post-Holocaust, Christian Relationships with Government, and a few other things. The final section of dilemmas deals with the “Consequent Construal of Christianity.” Many of these dilemmas have been raised by Orthodox and Catholics. They include the charge that JT is not sufficiently Trinitarian, or that it caricatures the role of the Holy Spirit and/or Christ. The sacraments also have a section here. Essentially, Campbell raises a whole host of interpretative quandaries that are at least partially influenced by JT. He argues that displacing JT as the primary reading of Paul will help or solve many of these dilemmas. With this charge, Part One closes.


DoG: The Approach

Other parts to this series can be found on my Deliverance of God page.

The approach of Campbell’s Deliverance of God is a bit different from what one may expect. The book is not primarily exegesis! Exegesis plays a big, important role in the argument, but it’s not primary. The argument is theory driven. This seems strange at first glance. In good protestant form, I too want to jump into Scripture first and sort out the results later. But Campbell’s theoretical approach is rather powerful for several reasons.

The basic argument works in five parts. Part One consists of a description of Justification Theory on a theoretical level. After describing JT, he explores the difficulty of this particular reading. He examines both intrinsic difficulties (those within JT itself) and systematic difficulties (those seen when compared to Pauline texts, especially Romans 5-8). Part One continues with Campbell’s critique of JT’s depiction of Judaism and its account of conversion itself. It ends with Campbell concluding that JT is responsible for many of the interpretive dilemmas in Pauline scholarship and within the Church as a whole.

Even after this theoretical examination of Justification Theory, Campbell doesn’t immediately jump into the exegesis (close reading of a Biblical text) right away. Instead, he begins with some interpretive (hermeneutical) considerations. The primary reason for doing this is that Campbell believes that “an important, and possible quite insidious, set of interpretative dynamics is operative that can distort any naive or merely unselfconscious approach to the texts” (221). For Campbell, these must be grasped and neutralized as much as possible before we can simply “read Paul.” In Part Two he builds an interpretive base for working with the texts. He also some gives some history of interpretation of Paul, including a highlight of the Reformer’s reading of Paul. Finally, he looks at some dangers that surround reading Paul in a modern European (or North American) setting. Only with these interpretive dilemmas and warnings presented does he finally proceed with exegesis.

Parts Three through Five deals directly with the Biblical texts. Part Three deals with Justification Theory and the texts which are used to support it. It primarily deals with Romans 1-4 as the “textual fortress” on which JT rests (Douglas’s metaphor). Part Four offers a rereading of Romans 1-4 (probably the most provocative piece of the argument. Part Five then extends this rereading of Romans 1-4 to the rest of Romans, as well as to other key texts which have been used to support JT.

I’m still working through Part Two at the moment, so I can’t comment on his exegesis yet. However, I must say that his approach is noteworthy. Starting with the theoretical models and working to the texts is novel, but I think it’s helpful and even necessary. He’s correct in that a “completely unbiased” reading of the text is impossible. We’re greatly influenced by the traditions we have received, regardless of their source. Highlighting these inherited “interpretative tendencies” is necessary work as we start to examine the texts. It keeps us honest and hopefully humble as we dialog with one another about the meaning of the Scriptures. I know I’ll find stuff to take issue with, but I’m deeply impressed at the breadth and depth of his argument.


DoG: The Heart of the Matter: The Justifcation Theory of Salvation

Other parts to this series can be found on my Deliverance of God page

As part of my summary and (slight) analysis of Campbell’s The Deliverance of God (hereafter DoG), I will condense and articulate Justification Theory as Campbell states it.  Justification Theory (or JT) is Campbell’s name for the classic Protestant statement of the core of the Gospel, namely Justification by Faith alone.  Historically, this is often called the “Lutheran” reading, but Campbell opts for “Justification Theory” instead.

DoG is fundamentally a critique and rejection of Justification Theory.  Campbell appropriately begins his tome with his articulation of JT.  He acknowledges that he is susceptible to creating a “straw man,” but strives to articulate the “opponent’s reading” as well as he can.  For the sake of discussion on the blog here, it’s also necessary to state what JT says.  Growing up in a Protestant church, JT was rarely explained in full, but it was certainly latent in our thinking.  So, now we can begin!

Campbell describes Justification Theory as a soteriology (theory of salvation) of two contracts.  The first one is rigorous, and the second one is generous.  The first contract goes something like this:

  • Premises
    • Humans are rational, self-interested and ethical.
    • God is omnipotent and just.
    • Everyone knows God is omnipotent from examining the Universe.
    • Everyone knows God is just from their own conscience.
    • God’s ethical demands are made known to Jews through the Old Testament laws.
    • God’s ethical demands are made known to everyone else innately (through their conscience)
    • Rewards and punishments will be meted out by God in accordance to a person’s obedience or disobedience of these ethical demands.  (Have you obeyed or not?)
    • Present injustices will be resolved at the end of time on the day of judgment.
    • The future age will have a positive aspect (heaven) and a negative one (hell).
    • God will determine an individual’s destiny based on their merit, whether they’ve obeyed his ethical laws or not (in accordance with Romans 2:6-10).
  • The Introspective Twist and the Loop of Despair
    • As we try to fulfill God’s ethical demands, we fail.  After failing, we try harder to fulfill God’s demands.
    • The harder we try, the worse we fail.
    • This results in a “Loop of Despair,” where we grow more and more depressed as we realize we cannot fulfill God’s ethical demands.
  • At this point, the “Generous Contract” enters:
    • God redirects, graciously, the punishment we deserve to Christ (who dies).
    • Because of his sinlessness and divinity, Christ can offer unlimited satisfaction of divine justice through his sacrificial death.
    • God redirects, generously, the perfect righteousness of Christ to sinners who are now viewed as if this righteousness were their own.
    • God, again graciously, offers faith as the criterion for accessing this righteousness.  This is manageable, unlike the the rigors of the first contract.
    • Individuals who have this faith access the perfect righteousness of Christ and will receive a favorable judgment on the day of judgment (they’ll go to Heaven).

Campbell goes through these in more detail, but that will suffice as a depiction of JT.  Toward the end of chapter 1, he lists these as the “root” metaphors of Justification Theory:

  • Humanity is ultimately individual, rationalistic, and self-interested. Humans are primarily cognitive (thinking is our most basic task).  By thinking, we discern the second “root” idea:
  • God is primarily an authority figure of strict justice. The “philosophical man” discerns the most fundamental divine attribute is retributive justice (that is, God punishes wrongdoing and rewards right-doing).
  • Humanity perceives itself to be “ethically incapable.” Humanity tries to do right in light of God’s justice, but is unable to fulfill these commands.
  • There needs to be compensatory mechanism of satisfaction, namely, Christ’s atonement. Jesus’ death pays for the sins from which humanity cannot escape.
  • The criterion of salvation is faith.   An individual accesses this work of Christ by believing in the revelation of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Campbell is working here on the theoretical level.  He only wants to with JT on a theoretical level since his approach is “theory” driven.  Discussion of the key Biblical texts will come later, but right now he wants to highlight the integrity (and also the difficulties) of JT before interacting with the important texts.

I’ll respond a little bit to his method in a separate post, but I find his articulation of the classic interpretation fair.  Admittedly, I haven’t done a tone of reading on classical Protestant theology, but it does fit will with both my reading and my experience growing up in Church.  If there’s something “amiss” in this representation, please let me know.  I’ve cut out a lot to make the summary manageable, so it’s likely I left something important out!